Monday, February 11, 2008

Coping With Betrayal

Love hurts. Everyone who's fallen in love will tell you that. In a few days, couples all over the world will be celebrating their love for each other. Those who are in new relationships will be in that stage where romance is the prevailing mood. But those of us who have been in long term relationships will be celebrating it in a different way. And then again, those who have just been through, or are still going through a crisis in their relationship will have a much harder time celebrating it.

In my youth, I used to say that if the man in my life betrays me, I will leave-fast. Now that I'm in my forties and have been married for close to two decades, I'm no longer that sure. I have seen many marriages fall apart after a spouse strays. But I have seen more marriages go on despite the indiscretions one of them may have committed. When your husband strays, should you forgive him? If you stay, how do you cope with the betrayal? I have been asked these question so many times that I decided to write about it.

Whether one should stay in a relationship after the partner strays is entirely his/her decision. The answer depends on a lot of factors. For one thing, it really will depend on why the other strayed. Some men just lack the maturity to stay in a monogamous relationship. If that's the case, it is best to leave. Some stray because of a momentary weakness. Most of the women whom I know stayed believed their husbands were caught at a time when they were too weak to resist the temptation. And I have seen a lot of these marriages become stronger after weathering the crisis.

The first thing a woman has to determine when she finds out her man is being unfaithful to her is if her man still loves her and is determined to keep their relationship intact. Then she too has to examine herself and determine if she loves him enough to try to make things work again. You see, it takes two to make this work again. Once she knows this for sure, then she can take the steps necessary to repair their relationship.

The first thing she has to do is to ACCEPT that her man is not perfect-that he made a mistake. Also, she has to accept that she is partly to blame for what happened. They have to talk things through. And they have to do this without recriminations. They must both agree to accept their imperfections and try to work on them so that they don't commit the same mistakes again.

The second thing she has to do is to FORGIVE. This is easier said than done. To do this, her husband must be patient and he must be willing to talk to her and be sensitive to her feelings more than ever before. She has to learn to stop dwelling on the past and determine to move on and move past the pain. She has to let go of the anger and the hurt. She must purge herself of the negative emotions that ultimately comes with betrayal. All throughout this stage, her partner must be completely supportive and understanding. For some couples I know, this stage took years to accomplish because the anger and the pain takes longer to die down and mellow. But time is the great healer. And it does happen, in time.

The third step is to FORGET. This is probably even harder to do. As human beings, we have long memories and the more the memory hurts, the longer it takes for us to forget it. Then there is the perfectly natural reaction that once bitten, twice shy. We are reluctant to forget lest we get hurt again. By forgetting, I don't mean develop selective amnesia. I mean, it is necessary that the wife stop dwelling on the negative and concentrate on moving past the pain and getting on with their lives. Concentrate on getting through each day without thinking about her husband's indiscretion. In time, the memory of the incident will be but a blur in her memory. In time . . . .

The last step is to RESTORE THE TRUST. This is probably the hardest to do. But if the relationship is going to work at all, this is necessary. How can you possibly trust a person again if he has betrayed you before? Impossible? Not really. If you determine to trust your spouse again, then it will happen. It's not going to happen overnight but it will happen eventually. Of course, it will depend on how he goes about restoring that trust. The effort has to come from him and you will respond accordingly. The secret is to look for the good in your spouse; concentrate on that. Ignore the negative. By your faith, your relationship will be saved.

All these things are possible only with one thing: love. Love is not an emotion. Love is a decision. We do not fall in love. We grow in love.


Liza said...

This is one good article. I have to admit I am very lucky to have a faithful husband. Had he done that when we were younger I am sure the decision would be to LEAVE.

Nice one ate. Happy Monday.

stev & emz said...

thats a good one sis. Forgive is really easy, but to forget and give your trust again? I dont know if i can do that! lol. i think not. ones that fall, it so impossible to build trust again, no matter what you do, no matter he have change, no matter how things goes on. to me ha! hehehe. I dont know about love as a Decision. maybe a decision in your heart but not in your mind. u cant dictate your heart on whom to love. but its not at first sight either, it is develop, grow and nurtured. =) Happy Valentines Day!!!

Max said...

Hey WS,

This is a very interesting post!
Betrayal of sentiments is very sad and dangerous to the soul. When one gets married one vows to be faithful to the person (and I am not just talking about the body, but mainly faithful to sentiments); and seeking for sex outside the marriage without previous agreement (yes, because many things can occur within a marriage that may lead the couple to reach an agreement of some sort...I don't know) then this is betrayal.
But if the couple agrees (based on their own private arguments) then I don't think there is betrayal...

However the ideal situation is that couples love each other and remain faithful until the end (but this doesn't happen to everyone).

I have already discussed adultery in one of my posts, and one of my guests shared that his wife had committed adultery; he had forgiven her and yet she repeated the stunt two more times...there was not anymore room for discussion, compromise...

Love is an emotion that needs to be nourished, taken cared of, respected, and loved!


Margarita said...

Hi, I am a just new to marriage but we are boyfriends for many years. All thoughout our relationship he remain faithful to me but when we got married after more than a year he cheated me. It seems that my world would fall apart. I cried a lot and it is so painful for me. He ask me for a chance and I have go back to him to start a new page of our life. But after two weeks of our return he still do it. And he will not accept it and he hit me.

Now, we are in a separate stage. I don't know now... I know I still love him but I am afraid to have him again. I am afraid to get hurt.

Anonymous said...

Dear WS,

I am actually going through this phase of's only been 4 days and I'm really hurting..I stumble upon your site when I was looking for somthing comforting to feed my aching soul.. i hope that you advise will work on me..

Anonymous said...

Hi, a good writing. I have been on both sides of the betrayal cycle, and I know it hurts - it hurts me so much that I am afraid to even engage in friendly relationships with the opposite sex. I know somewhere I'll slip up or lose control. What do I do, except retreat into my own self? Still am trying to figure things out. Life is such a zero-sum game, is'nt it?

SITI said...

Hi..a motivational entry..As for me,my hubby did not commit adultery,but i stumble upon his messages to my bestfriend saying that he loved her..for so long..and they revealed their feelings to each other.he said that he love her n me at the same time!I am sooo hurt and felt betrayed.Is this case considered betrayal?it makes it worst for me as we are staying very far from each other due to work.i cant confront him bout this.he ask me to keep holding on till he comes back.he said that he love me..and that he love her too!how can i accept that!i am very hurt and i feel lost..grieving and i dun believe in love anymore as this is my first time in love..i just dun knw how to go about this as she is my bestfrend..i am completely fallen apart..that i am just existing in this world..without a soul.i jus duno wat to do as the hurt n pain is!
before this happen,i was sooooo deeply in love with him dat i adore him evry second..and always2 trying to be the best for him..he was my not sure bout that anymore..

YAM said...

Love this article. Just today my friend grieved for the betrayal of her husband. And I was empty of giving advice since I was not yet in any betrayal situation (thank God), and was not even married (soon this year). I'll make a way to share your article to her.

Thank you for posting such great advices.

God bless..

wifespeak said...

Didn't think this article was being read anymore because it has been so many years since I wrote it. But I appreciate that some people are still reading it. Yam, there is something I have learned over the years since I wrote this original article and it is that when you let LOVE reign, it becomes easier to forgive and forget. Remember though that it all depends on whether love still exists in the hearts of both individuals. Because only when both parties are still in love can the relationship be restored. Ask your friend to study how he/she still feels for his/her partner. And they should have a heart-to-heart talk and determine if they are both willing to work on the relationship. It cannot be one-sided. If the partner no longer feels the love, it is better to let it go and move on. I will pray that your friend overcomes this crisis. And thank you for your time.